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When Grief Shows Up to Our Door

When my mom was in her last weeks I scrambled to take photos of things I didn’t want to forget. Parts of her body that meant something to me.

Along with her hands, at the top of my list were her scars. When she was just 5 years old she contracted polio and had many surgeries and procedures over her childhood.

In my body I have the ‘feel memory’ of those two scars on the inside and outside of her knees. My mothers body a location for the self soothing rhythm of my little fingers running across the textured skin countless times as I sat in her lap as a baby during church meetings or laid near to her watching tv as a child. Her flesh a fidget for my restlessness, anxiety or exhaustion.

Much of my grief is the loss of her body itself. Yes, of course, all of the “her” that filled it but also — her body.

Her skin and her hair and her hands and her lips touching my cheeks for a kiss. Her arms and her eyes and her fingers tapping on the table.

My mother opted for cremation — I sometimes wonder if it was her final attempt to make herself as small as possible in the world as to not feel like a burden, to feel like she’s taking up too much space in ways her disability often made her feel while she was alive.

This burial method felt harsh to me. As though there was a chance that she might come back and a traditional burial might be best in order to facilitate that resurrection once it comes. Our minds turn into epic reality benders when grief shows up to our door.

I hope that wherever she is she is waking up early in the morning for a long run. I hope she is doing cartwheels and can-can kicks. I hope she is as free as her disability never allowed her to feel. I hope she knows that I miss every part of her — even her scars.